Red velvet is special in the Bryan house. Last year, I made my first red velvet cake from scratch for my husband of now nearly 20 years. Red velvet cake is his favorite. We’ve bought so many of them over the years for him that I really had no idea what a homemade red velvet cake would taste like. He asked for a homemade cake and that is what he got. Quite happily.
Of course, the cake was so much tastier. And I fell in love with the process and idea of making cake. But pie is more a part of my family tradition—and it is the subject of my cookbook, even though it’s Mrs. Rowe’s pies, not my own.
So as I found myself enjoying making the cake, I also felt a little like a traitor to pie. But I learned a lot about the cake that I wouldn’t have known without actually making it. It’s not a simple chocolate cake—as some have suggested to me. It’s really a buttermilk-cocoa cake. I’m no fan of sipping buttermilk—but it adds a depth of flavor and tang to cooking and baking that’s hard beat. As I was mixing the cake, I thought of Mrs. Rowe’s buttermilk pie. How easy would it be to make it into a “red velvet” pie? Quite easy, as it turns out.
I just added cocoa and red food coloring to an otherwise perfect buttermilk pie recipe. The pie gets a thin cakelike skin on it as it cools, which is lovely for topping purposes. It would work with a number of toppings. But for me, it’s not red velvet without the cream cheese icing.
This recipe is a perfect example of how versatile pie is—once you have a good, solid recipe that works, it’s fun and easy to experiment with it. I call this pie my “Lovey-Dovey Red Velvet Pie” because I’m honoring my husband’s Southern traditions and tastes while also acknowledging my own pie-loving Yankee family and traditions. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Makes one 9-inch pie
1 pie crust
1 cup unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
1 cup sugar
½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 heaping teaspoons of cocoa
1 ounce of red food coloring
Preheat oven to 325. Line a 9-inch pie plate with dough and crimp the edges.
In a bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and flour, and stir
well. One at a time, add the eggs. Mixing well after each addition. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and stir well. Next, add the cocoa and stir into filling. Last, stir in the food coloring. Red, isn’t it?
Pour the batter into the pie crust.
The original buttermilk pie recipe called for baking for 25 to 35 minutes, until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. But it took 45 minutes in my oven for it thicken. When you insert the knife, there will be a little filling on it—but it continues to firm up as it cools.
Transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, until the filling firms up. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
You can top this with just about anything; I used a cream cheese icing recipe that was a bit too sweet. I’m still searching for a better cream cheese topping for this pie.
Disclaimer: this post is a rehash of an earlier one.